Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Otis Frizzell reveals his printmaking technique

Contemporary New Zealand print-maker Otis Frizzell recently gave a rare insight into his print-making process when he revealed the steps involved in creating his latest tiki series print, La Fiesta Del Tiki, as part of a "Visa Platinum people" promotion on Facebook.  Otis is one of NZ's most popular printmakers, both in his own right and in collaboration with his friend Mike Weston as the "art brand" known as Weston Frizzell (we have explained the differences between the artists Otis, Dick & Weston Frizzell in a previous article).

Otis Frizzell's initial drawing of a Tiki
In this article Frizzell describes how he begins making a print. "Everything starts out with a drawing. I've been working on a series of pinstripe Tiki stencils for a few years now and thought I'd try something different. I love Mexican folk art and wondered if I could fuse the decorative style of the Mexican sugar skulls with a broken down Tiki form." Shown here at right is a picture of the original tiki drawing that Frizzell worked up into the finished artwork.

Once Otis was happy with the design he tried a few colour variations because the sugar skulls are very colourful and ornate.  To make sure he gets the symmetry in his tiki series Otis revealed that "I often only draw half and when I reckon I'm there, I scan the drawings and flip them. It's worth noting that this is the only process I use my computer for. Everything else is hand done."

Actual stencil used in screenprinting process
When he's happy with the whole design Otis prints out the image to the size he wants the finished art to be and then the labourious task of breaking it down again colour by colour begins - essentially the artist has to trace over his entire drawing to make a stencil for each separate colour.  Once each colour has its own stencil (see picture at left of one of the actual stencils used to make La Fiesta Del Tiki) Frizzell does a test run - with spray paint! "That way" he says, "I can play with the colours and make sure it all works".

The actual screenprinting then begins, Otis says "I take each stencil and spray directly onto the film to make the screens (like I was saying, I like to keep it as hands on as possible). That way there are human imperfections on the screens.  When things get too perfect they lose the human touch. The final result is a beautiful edition of signed and numbered prints". To buy all prints available by Otis Frizzell, including the La Fiesta Del Tiki featured in this article please go to the Otis Frizzell prints collection at NZ's specialist art print store,  New Zealand Fine Prints.

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